Brannock Berman & Seider Fends Off Local Government Permit Challenge
The day after oral argument, a three-judge Brevard County circuit court panel sided with Brannock Berman & Seider’s arguments on behalf of the City of Palm Bay, denying a petition for writ of certiorari that challenged the city’s approval of a conditional use permit.
The permit applicant owned a chemical plant that was zoned for heavy industrial use. In 2019, the applicant purchased the lot next to its plant because the lot had an existing warehouse the applicant intended to use for storage. The applicant had been properly storing certain chemicals outside, but to improve safety, it wanted to move the chemicals into the warehouse with a fire suppression system. It applied for a permit to make this change.
In 2020, a residential developer purchased land next to the applicant’s warehouse lot. Although the surrounding area was zoned for heavy industrial use, the developer applied for and was approved to rezone its property for residential use. It assured the city it had no problem with its industrial neighbors. But when the city council considered the permit for the chemical plant’s storage plan, the developer objected.
The city council ultimately approved the permit, but the developer was still unhappy. It petitioned for a writ of certiorari to have the circuit court review the city council’s decision. In its petition, the developer argued that the city council had not given the developer a full and fair opportunity to be heard, even though the developer had been given a chance to argue its opposition to the permit. The developer also argued the council had departed from the essential requirements of the law and its decision was not supported by competent substantial evidence.
The city, a longtime client of the firm, hired Brannock Berman & Seider to defend its permitting decision. In response to the developer’s certiorari petition, the firm argued that the city council’s actions were absolutely fair under the circumstances and that the permit application met the legal requirements for approval. After considering the parties’ competing arguments, both in writing and during a Zoom oral argument, the circuit court, sitting in its appellate capacity, sided with the city, issuing a per curiam denial of the writ. This decision fully upholds the city council’s permitting decision.